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Friday, August 4, 2017

On the first day of my one full weekend in Singapore, I had booked myself a solo trip to the Gardens By the Bay. The hotel offered coach service to the gardens as well as the tickets into the Cloud Forest and Flower Dome, but I had to find my own way home which was fine by me.

With the whole day ahead of me, I was determined to see everything that I could see. I strolled past the magnificent Super Trees and headed down a path at random.

I couldn't believe the number of Plumerias here! They thrived so well! It made me a little sad to think of my pathetic attempts to grow them back home in California. Spoiler Alert; they died rather rapidly.

I found myself walking past such an array of plants and trees that I would've never thought could grow together. There were tropical plumerias and orchids, next to ponds full of water lilies, around the corner from pine trees and even a cactus forest! These plants all growing next to each other  reminded me a lot of Singapore itself, with it plethora of cultures living happily side by side.

The man made elements were almost as beautiful as the ones provided by nature. Plus the views weren't half bad.

After exploring for a while, I couldn't wait any longer to find out what, exactly, a Cloud Forest was. 

I was not disappointed.

Everything about this place made me want to stay forever. The sound of waterfalls, the smell of greenery and flowers and the cool air filled with water mist made this one of my favorite places.

Dispersed throughout was artwork so beautiful that it managed to actually add to the beauty of the flowers around them, which is a pretty rare occurrence. 

Each level held something different than the last and there were helpful signs describing what was growing nearby.

The view from the top was so lovely that I completely forgot about my fear of heights. 

Once I finally forced myself to leave the cloud forest, I headed over to the Flower Dome. It was a lot busier in here than it was in the Cloud Forest, but I wasn't surprised considering it was Orchid Extravaganza. Who could turn down seeing the ground blanketed in orchids of every color?! Not me, that's for sure.

If it weren't for the crowds, one could mistake this place for a fairy wonderland. Even with people everywhere, I was still thoroughly enchanted.

I decided to purchase myself just one more ticket before leaving. Facing my fears again, I made my way to the skywalk that's constructed between some of the supertrees.

For this view alone it was 100% worth the 8SGD that I spent on the ticket.

Honestly, you could spend days wandering all the gardens and discovering the different plants of the world. But my feet had had enough and I still had to figure out the bus system and make my way home so I headed out, back towards the bridge that would take me across the bay.

And thank goodness I left when I did! I ran right into a practice performance for Singapore's National Day and had the most amazing view of it from the footpath of the bridge.

There were helicopter, fighter jet and naval boat demonstrations as well as arms and fireworks displays. It was a thrilling sight to see and a misadventure I won't soon forget.

And by misadventure, I mean that I ran into the teeny tiny problem of not being able to get to my bus stop because I found myself right where a line of tanks was. I WOULD be the awkward foreign girl that has to ask the armed military members - who are assisting a tank procession - for directions. 

To their credit, they helped me with directions without batting an eye and redirected me to the train (really it's a subway but for some reason they don't call it that there). I made it home safe and sound, still laughing at myself and at the places I wind up in. 

If you want know more about Gardens By the Bay this website is a good place to start; Gardens By the Bay. If you're ever in Singapore you really should go! The best part is that tickets are extremely reasonable, and the outside gardens cost you absolutely nothing! 

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Thursday, July 27, 2017

This month I got to visit a country I've never been to before - Singapore! 

And let me tell you, if you haven't traveled much or are worried about spending time wandering a new part of the world alone, Singapore is such a great place to start your adventures while still feeling very safe. 

The flight was exhausting to say the least. 24hrs of flights, 2 layovers and delays on every single flight. But one very squished taxi ride, a 1AM check-in at the beautiful Orchard Hotel, a quick call to the Mr. to let him know I survived followed by the sleep of the dead for a grand total of 4 hours left me excited to get my bearings in this new place. 

I awoke to a beautiful sunny day and a view of the city from my room. 

The room itself was lovely, the bed was like heaven (and not just the first night when I would have thought that the floor was equally as comfy) and the amount of space was actually amazing considering most hotel rooms in Asia are rather smaller than Americans are used to.

Not one to stay cooped up in my room very long - no matter how lovely- I went off to explore the important things, namely, the pool and the gym. 

While I took no pictures of the gym because I felt like that might seem creepy and weird for the people working out in there, I couldn't help a few snaps of the pool. 

Yes. There is a tree in the middle of the spa. Though, I hesitate to call it a spa. It has jets but isn't heated considering Singapore has an average temp of around 82F all year long and more humidity than my lungs have seen in ages.

My late afternoons and early evenings were pretty much dedicated to the pool for my entire trip and I don't regret that one bit. Don't forget your SPF though, the sun is rather intense! 

That's all I've got as far as my arrival goes, but a here's a few notes about Singapore that might help fellow travelers out there that I really didn't think merited their own post but certainly deserve to be put out there. 

  • Singapore has some very strict rules in regards to keeping their country clean and safe. It's a good idea to check those out before you go, you can do that here although it's always a good idea to check their government website as well. 
  • One of the reasons this is such a great place to travel is that the crime rate is so low, it's considered one of the safest destinations out there, and ladies, there are very strict laws against men catcalling, touching, or just making women feel threatened in general so it's a pretty refreshing experience to say the least. Note - no place is completely without crime, always be aware of your surroundings!! 
  • Singapore is so easy to navigate. For pretty much anywhere you want to go, the MRT can get you there. Their train and bus system is incredibly cheap, clean and easy to figure out. And if all else fails, taxis abound. 
  •  Hotel Handy Phones - Most hotels, including the one I stayed at, provide you with a smartphone for your personal use while you're here. They have gps, local and international calling (15 countries so check before you make those calls!) and even social media, although I couldn't get Snapchat to work. So if you're on the fence about paying for international plans, I'd call the hotel first and save yourself some money. 

  • Culture -The mix of cultures here is amazing. It's not unusual to find a Hindu temple next to a Mosque, down the street from a Christian church that is across from a Buddhist temple. So no matter where you're from, don't worry, you'll fit in just fine as long as you're respectful of other cultures too. 
  • English - everyone speaks it! Singaporeans are required to learn English as well as the native language of their mother growing up, so meeting people and asking questions is not a problem.

  • I'm convince half of this city is underground. My first full night in town I found out that in order to cross most major streets you'll need to take an underpass. It's hard not to get distracted down there! These underpasses generally contain the cities' trains, malls, food name it!
  • Speaking of malls. If it's shopping you want, Orchard Rd is your stop. The entire road is lined with everything from H&M to Dolce and Gabbana and everything in between. These malls are unlike anything else though, they go many stories above ground and probably about 5 stories underground - for the entire length of the road. So bring your walking shoes and a hefty wallet.
  • Food - Singapore is not short of good food. I didn't eat anything I didn't love. HOWEVER, food and drink are expensive. I made sure to book a hotel room that cost a little more with the added benefit of serving breakfast, afternoon tea and cocktails with refreshments every day to offset the cost of eating out in town for dinner. But if you are looking for somewhere cheap to eat most train stations are attached to FoodRepublics (underground of course) that are like food courts with actual delicious food for reasonable prices. P.S. - if you like seafood, try the traditional Laksa, you won't be disappointed. As far as alcohol is concerned, either look for happy hour deals or just be prepared to pay $12 (SGD) a beer and up for anything else. 
  • Lastly, most hotels do tours or even just provide coaches to popular destinations for really reasonable rates but if you don't feel like doing it that way, buying tickets wherever you're going usually isn't all that much more expensive, especially if you travel by train. 
  • Ok, really one last note. The place called Orchard Towers is not a standard mall/hotel. It is a brothel, so just keep that in mind when you're out and about!
I hope this helps some of you out there deciding where to go or who are already planning on heading to Singapore! If you have any other questions feel free to ask in the comments! 

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